ISRAEL is experiencing a severe drought. On a recent visit to the Sea of Galilee (Hebrew: Kinneret), I was shocked to see dry land that for all of our years in Israel had been covered with water. Statistics charting the water level of the Kinneret are carefully kept, because it is the country's primary reservoir. This scenic fresh water lake is currently below the "red line" - the point at which it is ecologically inadvisable to draw water. We are now heading toward the "black line" - at which point the weight of the lake's total mass will not be sufficient to hold enough back pressure on the salt springs under the lake-bed. If the salt springs are released Kinneret's waters would become permanently brackish.

In the national press, pundits analyze the available technological solutions to our intense lack of water. Buying water was once thought a viable supplement, but our deal with Turkey fell through. We are one of the world's major builders of desalination systems, yet here at home we have failed to utilize our own cutting edge technology. Another plan involves bringing water from the Mediterranean to the Dead Sea. This radical redirection of sea water to the Salt Sea could produce 1.3 billion cubic meters of desalinated water annually as well as 2500 megawatt of hydroelectric peak-load power.

As one letter to the editor in the Jerusalem Post Magazine, pointed out "It has been known for at least 3,000 years that this region has a problem with water. After all, Abraham went down to Egypt because of a drought." So why has it been so tough for the governments of the last 25-30 years to take action? According to Arnon Sofer, a professor at Haifa University's Department of Geography and Environmental Studies, "'Had the Water Authority's minimal desalination plan of 2002 been implemented, there would be no crisis now.' Israel's failure to have ample desalination facilities on stream by now is largely the result of a parsimonious Finance Ministry. Treasury bureaucrats stymied cabinet decisions, leaving us in the absurd position of providing cutting-edge water technology assistance to other countries, while at home this enviable know-how was not being put to ample use." (Jerusalem Post, January 22, 2009 "Drought and the Treasury")

In another article entitled "Water Authority experts plumb for solutions to bone-dry winter. January rainfall worst in recorded Israeli history," Ehud Zion Waldoks concludes that "In spite of a successful conservation campaign among the public, cutting 100 million cubic meters (MCM) from agriculture's allocation, reducing gardening to the bare minimum and desalinating water, the paucity of rainfall this year has Water Authority forecasters predicting a shortage."

From 1980 to 2007 the median rainfall in Lake Kinneret was 328 MCM per year. By last year's winter it had dropped to 82 MCM! "Current drought predictions far exceed those the authority had included in its emergency plan" Waldoks cautions. This is truly a national crisis.

Spiritual Implications of Drought

A Galilee valley lush from winter rains
Rain, in the history of God's dealings with Israel, has long been a tool in the hand of the Almighty - a tool to get our attention. The lack of it ultimately creates famine. Its abundance ensures lush fields and bumper crops. The Lord is not even subtle about His policy of withholding rain as a disciplinary device.

God immediately reveals Himself in Genesis as the Sender of rain. In creation, the flood and Egypt's plagues, rain comes at Heaven's command. Likewise, the lack of rain is His purview. In Torah (Levit. 26:4-20; Deut. 11:13-17; 28:12-24) rain is His promise to those who walk in covenant obedience and drought is forecast for those who turn to idols.

Israel's prophets left no doubt about drought as an expression of God's disfavor. Through Isaiah the Lord said that he could find no justice in Israel or in Judah, therefore "I will command the clouds that they rain no rain on it." (Isa. 5:6) Jeremiah also links drought with judgment:

"Judah mourns, and her gates languish; they mourn for the land, and the cry of Jerusalem has gone up. Their nobles have sent their lads for water, they went to the cisterns and found no water. They returned with their vessels empty; they were ashamed and confounded ... because the ground is parched. For there was no rain in the land ..." (Jer. 14:2-4)

Our Intercessory Role in Bringing Rain

But the situation is not hopeless, as we see in Joel's writings. He unhesitatingly connects the arrival of physical rain AND the rain of Israel's end-time revival with weeping intercession.

The bone-dry southern desert
"Let the priests, who minister to the Lord, weep between the porch and the altar. Let them say 'Spare your people, O Lord' ... And He will cause the rain to come down for you - the former rain, and the latter rain in the first month. The threshing floors will be full of wheat, and the vats shall overflow with new wine and oil ... And it shall come to pass afterward that I will pour out my Spirit on all flesh; your sons and your daughters will prophesy, your old men shall dream dreams, your young men shall see visions ... I will pour out my Spirit in those days." (Joel 2:23-24, 28-29)

The Bible is equally clear in assigning us the faith task of releasing rain and revival through repentance and prayer. In dedicating the Temple, King Solomon understood the place of intercession in changing drought to showers.

"When the heavens are shut up and there is no rain because they have sinned against you, when they pray toward this place and confess your name, and turn from their sin because you afflict them, then hear in heaven, and forgive the sin of your servants, your people Israel, that you may teach them the good way in which they should walk, and send rain on your land which you have given to your people as an inheritance." (1 Kings 8:35-36)

This inspired prayer directs today's intercessors how to respond to drought. The prophet Elijah is singled out in the New Covenant as an inspiration to all of us who think our prayers are of little effect - and the specific example? Rain:

"... The effective fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much. Elijah was a man with a nature like ours, and he prayed earnestly that it would not rain; and it did not rain on the land for three years and six months. And he prayed again, and the heaven gave rain, and the earth produced fruit." (James 5:16-18)

Rain Dances?

In the great Southwest of the United States, where we enjoyed our formative years as a family, the Pueblo, Hopi and Zuni Indian traditions all include elaborate prayer-dance ceremonies to call upon the Great Spirit for rain. Though I no longer refer to God as the Great Spirit, I can admire their focused intensity in praying for the blessing of rain from heaven. I'm not suggesting that we "dance for rain" but the biblical mandate of fasting, repentance, worship and prayer is most certainly called for. Is this desperate need for rain in Israel a signal from the Almighty to increase our dependence upon Him and turn us back to a faith-based life? I believe it is. Learning radical dependence on our God will be essential in the climactic days to come.

When I started this article, it began raining! It rained on and off all day. It was certainly not enough, and the weather predictors called for dry days ahead, but it was a breakthrough. I'll take it. It's time to take up our positions before the mercy seat of God. King Solomon instructs us to PRAY, CONFESS HIS NAME and TURN FROM OUR SIN. Then God will FORGIVE OUR SIN, TEACH US THE GOOD WAY, and SEND RAIN ON OUR LAND. Israel's drought mirrors our spiritually dry condition. We thirst for Living Water.


By Eitan Shishkoff

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08:19 03Mar09 Shirani -
Thank you. As you have confirmed my thoughts. We in Sri Lanka too are going through drought after many years. We do pray for Israel and honour the Lord's feasts. Do teach us more.

03:15 05Mar09 Kaytee Rath
You are in our prayers constantly, at night too. And we prayed with tears.

Also in this issue of the newsletter:
Dan Juster: Calendar Confusion
Marty Shoub: The Immovable Stone
Asher Intrater: The Ladder Of Gospel And Law
Liat And Idan: Israeli Evangelism In India